* * * * * * * * * * *
Heero led Duo into a smoky pool hall. Smoking wasn't allowed in bars in
California, but that was the least of the laws being broken here tonight.
Heero glanced around; it had been some time since he had hung around here,
and he wasn't even sure if he knew anyone still. The sound of low murmurs and
the clack of the balls surrounded them as Heero made his way to the bar.
"Antonio," Heero called out with relief as he recognized the bartender. "Long
Duo looked around, wide-eyed, as he followed Heero. This place looked like
something out of a bad movie; he didn't know places like this actually
existed. A few faces glared back at him and he moved closer to Heero.
"Kid! We thought we'd lost you," the bartender replied easily, leaning over
the counter to look at the two new arrivals. The man was well over six feet
tall, bald and tattoos covered his muscular arms. "What's going on?"
"Just looking for Jack," Heero replied casually, and Duo admired his calm.
"In his 'office,'" Antonio replied, with a jerk of his head at a pool table
in the corner.
"Thanks," Heero replied. "See you around, Antonio." He glanced back at Duo,
and indicated they were going.
"Don't be a stranger now, kid," the bartender called out cheerfully as the
two boys walked over to the corner table.
Heero whispered to Duo, "Relax and let me handle this."
Duo was more than happy to do just that. He hung back as Heero approached a
man who wasn't much taller than he was. He waited until the man had completed
his shot before he spoke.
"Yo, Jack," Heero said neutrally. It had been a while. He had to be careful.
"Hey, kid," Jack said as he lined up another. "How ya been?" He sank two
balls with one shot, then straightened to look at Heero. Jack had black hair,
slicked back, and wore a black tank top and faded jeans. He might once have
been handsome, but his face was tanned to a leather-like texture and a jagged
white scar ran from the corner of his eye down his cheekbone.
"I've been better, Jack," admitted Heero, leaning casually against the pool
"I get the feeling this ain't no social call," smirked Jack.
"I need your help," Heero said in a low voice.
"Oh really?" Jack smiled crookedly. "I'm retired."
Heero frowned. "You're the best. You can't be retired."
Jack laughed. "Flattery will get you nowhere, kid."
"Well, will cash get me anywhere?" Heero suggested.
"Depends on where you need to go," Jack shot back, lining up another shot.
Heero moved closer, and spoke quietly. "I need to get us out of the country.
Fast. And I have the money."
"What you got yourself into now, kid?" Jack asked, looking for the first time
"That doesn't matter. I've got money and you can give me what I need. Please,
Jack. I need this," Heero said urgently.
Jack looked at Heero for a long moment. "I owe you one, so I'll do it," he
finally said, and Duo breathed a sigh of relief. "It looks like you're in a
hurry, so lets go over to my place now."
Heero and Duo rode with Jack in a beat-up old truck. He led them up some
stairs into a boarded-up old house, then through a metal door into a
surprisingly modern room. "Welcome," he said shortly, and punched a code on a
keypad on a wall. Another heavy door swung open, and he gestured them in.
"Looks like you've gone upmarket," commented Heero as he walked in, surveying
the ranks of high tech equipment.
"Yeah, well, I took your advice about getting a computer," Jack replied.
Heero looked around, noting at least three computers, several very high-end
scanners, a few expensive digital cameras and a color laser printer. "I can
see that," he said dryly. "I thought you said you'd retired."
"S'what I say to everybody, at first. They never seem to believe me either,"
grinned Jack, sitting down at a desk and booting up one of the computers. He
turned to look at the two boys. "Now I guess it's no use asking what the
problem is. Is it anything I can help with?"
Heero shook his head. "I appreciate the thought, but I doubt it. Just a
couple of new passports and some help getting at my cash so I can pay you."
"Oh, just a couple of new US passports, only the hardest ones to do," laughed
Jack. "Is that all?"
Heero shrugged. "You *are* the best, aren't you, Jack?"
The man grinned confidently. "Yep, I am. So, yeah, I can do it. Where's the
"Grand Cayman Bank and Trust. For now. I can move it if you need me to,"
"Ok. Hop on that computer over there and do this," he said as he scribbled on
a piece of paper. It had a list of accounts from different banks. "It's
secure, but I'm sure you can be untraceable anyway. Bounce it through those
accounts. Now I'd suggest you also set up an account in the Sao Paulo bank
listed there. Manager's a good friend of mine. Brazil might be a good place
for you to settle anyway, they don't bother with extradition much."
"Got it," Heero answered, sitting down and getting to work. "But I don't
speak the language there."
"I speak Portuguese," Duo interrupted, speaking for the first time.
"You do?" Heero answered in surprise.
Duo nodded. "And Spanish, and French, and Japanese, and a bit of a few
others. It was kind of a hobby."
Heero blinked at Duo for a long moment. "That's great, Duo! It will make
things a lot easier."
Duo smiled back at Heero. "At least I can help with something, then. I feel
Heero smiled back. "I'm sorry, Duo. But you're not useless at all. Please
don't feel that way."
Jack was watching the exchange. "I was going to ask you who your friend was.
Duo, is it?"
The longhaired boy nodded.
"Well, Duo, nice to meet you. Heero has never had a friend before that I can
remember, at least one close enough to be in on whatever he's in on," Jack
"Nice to meet you too," replied Duo, still a bit nervous.
Heero and Jack worked in silence for a while. Duo sat in a chair and watched.
Jack spoke up finally. "I have a few templates made up. How do you feel about
being Dan and Ken?"
Heero wrinkled his nose. "It'll have to do," he agreed, and Duo shrugged.
"Ok, let me set up the camera and we can do the pictures," Jack said.
The pictures were taken; Jack had everything done to the fake passports
except the particulars of the person using them. Carefully, he attached the
photos, laminated them, and even aged them by putting a few immigration
stamps on them.
Meanwhile, Heero had transferred a large sum of money to Jack's accounts as
requested, and had managed to skim some more money out of one of Duo's
accounts that he hadn't had time to crack before. He set up several more
accounts that could be accessed from Brazil. He booked and paid for two plane
tickets to Sao Paulo, in their new names.
Duo just watched all of it with amazement. He didn't even notice the time
until he yawned. He checked his watch and was amazed; it was 4am! No wonder
he was tired.
Jack noticed this and reassured him. "We're almost done, Duo. It helps that
Heero is doing some of it. Not much longer."
Finally, they each had a new passport. To Duo's eyes, which were admittedly
not trained, they looked perfect. Heero inspected them critically. "You're
sure about these?"
Jack nodded. "Checked them out myself. Died at birth, never had as much as a
social security number issued. Not in the system at all. They're real
passports, just your pictures added. They won't more than glance at them on
the way out of the country, and Brazil won't much care. I kind of assumed you
wouldn't be coming back here for a while."
"Nope. Not planning on it," Heero said with a glance at Duo, who shook his
head as well.
"Well, there is one more thing I would suggest," Jack mused. "I could whip
you up a couple of Brazilian passports, they're relatively easy. You could
switch to those if you needed to, once you were out of the US."
"Sounds like a good idea," admitted Heero.
"Tell you what. I'll throw those in for free. Just give me a few more hours.
You can crash here if you want," Jack offered.
"I am pretty tired," Heero said diplomatically after Duo yawned again. "Is
that ok, Duo?"
Duo nodded sleepily, and Jack showed them to the living room, where they each
chose a couch and fell almost immediately asleep. Heero smiled shyly at Duo
after Jack had left, and Duo mumbled, "Sweet dreams."
Continued in part 7